Recently the electorate in some states has voted to eliminate the use of racial preferences in college admissions. However, many voters still favor fair and just means for promoting ethnic diversity in higher education. In light of these new conditions, researchers are interested in finding alternative measures of merit that can be used in the admissions process. One approach to admissions that holds promise is to construct a “merit index” by subtracting the average test score for the individual’s high school from their individual score. When this method is used in admissions in addition to the SAT (or other admissions tests), then it is easier to screen a diverse applicant pool. This paper assesses the effects of the merit index on persistence in the first year of college. We compare the predictive capacity of the SAT and the merit index using a set of sequential logistic regressions. We found that the merit index predicts first-year college persistence about as well as the SAT.